Flat Roof Materials & Installation Costs 2020: PVC vs. TPO, EPDM Rubber, BUR, Modified Bitumen, Spray-on Coating

When it comes to covering up a flat roof, your options are both limited and expansive. What that means in a nutshell is that your traditional roofing materials such as asphalt shingles, concrete tiles, and corrugated metal are out of the window. That being said, flat roof systems such as PVC, TPO, EPDM rubber, and others, each have their distinct pros and cons.

EPDM Rubber installed on a flat roof by GemTile

So why can’t you put the traditional roofing materials like asphalt shingles on a flat roof? Well, technically you can, but they are almost guaranteed to leak!

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Systems designed for sloped roofs, such as asphalt shingles and concrete or clay tiles, are installed by overlapping one row on top of another. These systems work cohesively with the pitch of the roof to shed rainwater and snow as it falls from the sky.

Since flat roofs have little to no pitch, the water would work itself underneath the shingles or tiles, eventually rotting the substrate and causing leaks on your interior.

Covering a flat roof is a whole different animal (specialized skills and expertise are required) than shingling a pitched one. On a flat roof, generally speaking, you want to avoid any types of seams, if at all possible.

The biggest threat is of course going to be water, which WILL find any access though any hole or inadequately-sealed seams in a roofing membrane.

Your main goal when covering a flat roof is to create a barrier that will be impenetrable to water.

How do you make an item (besides a roof) impenetrable to water? You can either apply something physical such as a tarp, or coat it with a material to create a barrier like you would via deck stain or lacquer. Roofs follow this same premise –- either physically cover it with something like a PVC or an EPDM rubber membrane, or apply a coating such as tar or spray on silicon.

Flat Roof Costs:

It’s easy to assume that a flat roof would be far less expensive to apply materials to than a pitched one. For access reasons alone it would seem it’s a lot easier to roof a flat surface than one that is steep and requires a harnesses and a rope line to move around.

New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

Many roofing contractors will tell you, though, that working on flat surfaces is actually harder on the back.

Take into account that flat roofs often require the application of a layer of insulation, adhesives or hot air welding, and some types such as modified bitumen are installed with a torch that heats up the seal.

Installation costs can be just as high for a flat roof as they would be for a steeper roof with say an 18/12 pitch.

Professional warrantied labor prices will vary across different markets in the US. You can get a fairly good idea of the estimated cost to cover a flat roof based on the national average:

1. PVC
2. EPDM
3. TPO
4. Modified Bitumen
5. BUR
6. Spray on Coating

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TPO vs. PVC Roofing Cost in 2020, Plus Pros & Cons

If you are looking for a cost-effective and durable single-ply roofing system for your flat or low-slope roof, a TPO (thermoplastic olefin) membrane may be a solid, energy-efficient option.

TPO membrane installation

Cost

A typical residential TPO roof will cost between $6.50 and $11.50 per sq. ft. installed. Thus, for an average-sized 1,200 sq. ft. flat roof, your total cost to install a new TPO roof can range from $7,800 to $13,800, depending on project specific variables, contractor choice, and your home’s location.

The above cost assumes a low-slope roof on a single-story or two-story house, the cost of materials and supplies, removal and disposal of up-to one layer of existing material such as EPDM rubber, permitting, installation, and a 5 year workmanship warranty.

Note: the cost can be significantly higher in expensive metro areas and on complex flat roofs that involve additional work and/or are difficult to access.

New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

Did you know? TPO membrane can provide combined benefits of both, EPDM rubber and PVC roofs, but at a more economical cost than PVC.

It’s therefore not surprising that TPO roofing systems are quickly growing in popularity and demand, in both residential and commercial flat roof markets.

TPO in a Nutshell

flat-roof

A TPO membrane is made from ethylene propylene rubber. Special technology is used to chemically bind together, rubber, ethylene ( an organic gaseous substance) and propylene (a byproduct of petroleum refining). At the end, numerous filler materials are added, such as talc, carbon filler and fiberglass. — These fillers reinforce the TPO membrane’s strength and durability.

Did you know? TPO roofing membrane has been specifically designed to have the advantages of a rubber roof, combined with hot air-weldable seams for extra durability.

TPO membranes have been manufactured in the US since the early 1990’s and are now the fastest growing segment of the US single-ply roofing industry.

TPO Membrane Options

TPO roofs are manufactured to meet a variety of needs and design specifications. They are available in white, light gray, and black colors. White TPO roofs offer the best solar radiant heat reflection properties, hence they are the most popular choice thanks to their energy-saving potential.

Single Ply Membrane on a Residential Flat Roof

For most residential applications, TPO membranes come in two thicknesses options: 45 mils (.045″) or 60 mils (.060″). The width and length of the membrane can vary depending on the manufacturer, with a typical TPO membrane roll being 6 to 6.5 ft. wide and 100 ft. long.

Other membrane thicknesses and widths are also available depending on the manufacturer, including a 3 feet-wide rolls for the edges of the roof. Commercial grade TPO membranes may have a thicknesses of up to 80 mils (.080″) and may come in up to 12 feet-wide rolls.

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Top 5 Energy Efficient Home Improvements and Their Costs

Are your ready to make your home greener and more energy-efficient? If so, consider the following five home improvement upgrades that can be completed by a professional remodeling contractor, as well as by an experienced DIY enthusiast working collaboratively with a handy friend. 😉 1. Cool Roofs Vs. Traditional Asphalt and Dark EPDM Rubber Dark … Read more